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Gotti attorneys want case tried in New York

TAMPA — Calling the federal government's decision to prosecute John A. "Junior" Gotti in Tampa a "last-ditch effort," the alleged mob leader's attorneys asked Friday to move the case to New York.

"There is strong evidence to support the conclusion that the government's decision to bring this case in Tampa is another in a string of tactical maneuvers designed to deny Gotti his right to a fair trial in what has become an epic quest to convict him," their motion said.

The attorneys said the latest charges against Gotti have an "utter lack of a palpable connection to Tampa." An alleged Gambino crime boss, Gotti, 44, was arrested last month on charges of racketeering conspiracy, drug trafficking and murder.

Prosecutors laid out in indictments what they said was an attempt by the New York mob, under Gotti's leadership, to expand into Tampa using bars, clubs, valet services and glass and window businesses as fronts.

But Gotti's attorneys say the case was filed in Tampa only after three juries failed to convict Gotti in New York and nearly two years after the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York dismissed a racketeering indictment based on similar charges and covering a similar time frame.

To make their case for a move north, the attorneys note that the events underlying the charges, which include three murders, occurred in New York. The state is home to Gotti, his attorneys and all of the defense witnesses, the attorneys said.

They added that Gotti may be unable to afford to defend his case in a courtroom nearly 1,200 miles from home, suggesting it could cost him $200,000 more than in New York.

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3337.

Gotti attorneys want case tried in New York 09/12/08 [Last modified: Saturday, September 13, 2008 12:03am]
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